Collaborative Construction

Entrusting one’s residence to a contractor is a time-honored rite of passage of home ownership. But the difference between a successful experience and an unsuccessful one lies in the quality of the collaboration — how well a contractor can bring what a client wants to life can be the difference between a home’s extended life and a premature return to the real estate market.

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When Steve and Ginny Markovich, an investment banker and an attorney, first discussed their plan to combine their Park Slope two bedroom with the studio next door, Mind Hand initially suggested a grand entrance. However, after talking with the couple more, Dan and Phil revised their recommendations.

“They said a grand entrance would be great in any other apartment but you have two young kids and you have more concerns about gaining space,” Ginny remembers. “And for resale a grand entrance is not going to appeal to a family that’s probably moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn for more space.”

As they worked, Phil and Dan continued to be alert to ways in which they could make the apartment comport even further with their clients’ needs.

“They’re great collaborators…They genuinely enjoy the collaborative part of it and that’s what makes it so much fun to work with them.”

“When it was done, it looked like a classic six,” Ginny says. “They made this hallway with wainscoting that brought you into the older apartment. And then as you went through that, you had my son’s room and the bathroom and a closet and then to the right, you had this den. We knocked down the walls and they found space for us to have a den which is rare.”

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Marilyn Fedak, who has hired Mind Hand many times over the years, characterizes their work style this way: “They’re great collaborators. They’re not like some designers or contractors who get all snippy if you disagree with their vision of how your place is going to be. They never get like that. They genuinely enjoy the collaborative part of it and that’s what makes it so much fun to work with them. We work through things. We try to come up with ideas together. And they’re so sweet — if I come up with a solution to something they give me all the credit.”

For Ann Knight it was the Shoji Panel case for the TV projector that stands out. Ann and her then husband wanted a high tech home theater in their house in Connecticut, but they wanted the tech itself to be invisible. “We were very anti-clutter,” says Knight. “This was before TVs got flat and easy to work with so camouflaging that sucker was not easy. Dan came up with Shoji panels shaped sort of like an airplane. It was magnificent. Completely disguised the projector — it looked like a gorgeous Japanese sculpture. The projector worked through a slit between the two wings.”

“Dan came up with Shoji panels shaped sort of like an airplane. It was magnificent. Completely disguised the projector — it looked like a gorgeous Japanese sculpture.”

Collab Shoji

The idea? It began as a discussion. “I started the ball rolling by saying, ‘Well, could you use a Shoji box?’” Knight remembers. “I was just thinking of a light fixture, like you see in restaurants. And Dan said, ‘Hmmm, good element, hmmm, hmmm.’ A few months later, that was the result. It took probably six months for him to come up with that idea. It would have taken six lifetimes for me to come up with it.”